Date of birth unknown; died 1015.
According to the information in The Tale of Bygone Years, Vladimir Sviatoslavich became prince of Kiev circa 980. He was the son of Prince Sviatoslav Igorevich and the housekeeper-slave Malusha Liubechanka. With the assistance of his uncle Dobrynia, Vladimir became prince of Novgorod in 969. After Sviatoslav’s death in 977, Vladimir was involved in war among the princes and emerged victorious over his older brother laropolk, who was treacherously murdered by Varangians from Vladimir’s army. Vladimir consolidated the ancient Russian state with his campaigns against the Viatichi, Lithuanians, Radimichi, and Bulgars. His campaign in the Cherven-Peremyshl’ land, which had been seized earlier by Poland, played a significant role in the formation of the state’s territory. To organize a defense against the Pechenegs he constructed several defensive borders with a system of forts along the Desna, Osetr, Trubezh, Sule, and Stugne rivers; this was the first border fortification in Russia’s history. Vladimir was able to enlist tribes from the northern regions for the defense of southern Russia. He directed an all-Russian struggle against the Pechenegs, in which all strata and classes had an interest.
The successful wars with the Pechenegs led to an idealization of the personality and reign of Vladimir. In the popular epos he was called Vladimir the Red Sun. Vladimir Sviatoslavich was cunning: in the struggle with laropolk and during the capture of Chersonese he used traitors. The feudal character of Vladimir’s politics was best revealed in his religious reform. Initially he decided to convert popular pagan beliefs into a state religion, and for this purpose he established cults of Perun, the main god of his bodyguards, in Kiev and Novgorod. About the year 988, Vladimir replaced paganism with Christianity, which he accepted from Byzantium after the capture of Chersonese, a Greek colony, and his marriage to Anna, sister of the Byzantine emperor. However, Christianization did not make Russia a dependent vassal of Byzantium. Vladimir’s reign was a period of significant development for the Kievan state: feudal power was strengthened internally, campaigns were successful, and culture, agriculture, and handicrafts were developed. However, Vladimir’s son Sviatopolk opposed his father, and this was a symptom of the future feudal fragmentation of Rus’.
REFERENCESPovest’ vremennykh let, parts 1-2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950.
Sbornik v pamiat’ 900-letiia kreshcheniia Rusi. Kiev, 1888.
Zavitnevich, V. Z. Vladimir Sviatoi, kak politicheskii deiatel’. Kiev, 1888.
Grekov, B. D. Kievskaia Rus’. Moscow, 1953.
Rybakov, B. A. Pervye veka russkoi istorii. Moscow, 1964.
Rybakov, B. A. Drevniaia Rus’. [Moscow, 1963.]
Pashuto, V. T. Vneshniaia politika Drevnei Rusi. Moscow, 1968.
P. V. SNESAREVSKII